Nikolai Ivanovich Novikov was born in 1744 into the family of a wealthy landowner living in an estate near Moscow. In 1755, Nikolai began attending a French class, which was opened in the same year at Moscow University, although in 1760 Novikov was expelled.
Nikolai Ivanovich began his service in 1762 in the Izmailovsky regiment. He personally took part in the events of June 28, 1762, when Catherine the Great came to the throne.
In 1769 Novikov resigned. His intentions included the protection of the humiliated layers of the population of Russia. In the same year, he published his first magazine called "Drone". In addition to this magazine, Nikolai Ivanovich published the following periodicals: "Pustomelya", "Painter" and "Purse".
In 1775 Novikov became a member of the Freemasons. Nikolai Ivanovich was involved in a wide range of charitable activities. Together with Schwartz, he founded the Friendly Scientific Society, which was later transformed into a Printing Company.
In 1792 the publisher was arrested and imprisoned in the Shlisselburg Fortress. The new Tsar Paul I freed Novikov at the very beginning of his reign. In 1818 N.I. Novikov died in poverty.
Novikov often missed classes at the gymnasium at Moscow University. For this he was expelled in 1762. The fact is that Nikolai's father was ill, and the teaching at the gymnasium was not very well organized. By the way, he left the gymnasium together with the future favorite of Catherine the Great - Grigory Potemkin.
Novikov first saw Yekaterina Alekseevna during a palace coup. Then he did not yet know that his fate would be closely intertwined with the fate of the future Empress Catherine II. For his participation in the events of June 28, 1762, Nikolai Ivanovich Novikov was promoted to non-commissioned officer.
Novikov was interested in literature. Military service gave him the opportunity to gain knowledge for himself from various sciences. But most of all Nikolai Ivanovich was interested in "verbal sciences": he took part in the empress's literary evenings, which were held in the Hermitage. In 1768, Novikov published his first works with the savings he had saved. These were translations of works by French authors and sonnets.
Novikov retired from military service to protect the humiliated sections of society. In 1766, Nikolai Ivanovich was included in the Commission for the development of a new Code. Novikov was appointed a clerk. Thus, Novikov's abilities and education were noted in the upper strata. It was in doing his new job that Nikolai Ivanovich discovered for himself all the hardships of the life of the middle stratum - small traders and artisans, and of course, the most unprivileged class - the Russian peasantry. Then Nikolai Ivanovich resigned from military service (1769). This happened immediately after the completion of the work of the Commission. From that moment on, the main goal of Novikov's life was to protect the humiliated estates and censure the vices of noble people.
Novikov is the publisher of the Truten magazine. In 1769 Nikolai Ivanovich published his first magazine. Its name is "Drone". It was a satirical edition. Novikov saw the main idea of this magazine in the fact that it is much better to be a poor man, honestly earn his living, than to be known as a noble parasite, whom everyone knows about only thanks to expensive decorations. The publisher ridiculed cruel landowners, flatterers, judges who are guided only by their own benefit. Nikolai Ivanovich was able to criticize state policy, for example, when it came to foreign trade. Novikov could not understand why the Russian Empire was exchanging essential goods for luxury goods. Through this journal N.I. Novikov led a controversy with Catherine II herself, who, in turn, answered him in the magazine "Anything and everything" she published. By the way, in comparison with Nikolai Ivanovich, the empress thought life in the Russian Empire was very prosperous. The empress and her entourage did not like the content of the magazine published by Novikov - already in 1770 the "Drone" was closed.
Novikov is the publisher of the Pustomelya magazine. In terms of its content, it was an even more daring edition, which Novikov began to publish just 3 months after the closure of his first magazine - "Drone", in the same 1770. However, the history of this magazine turned out to be even shorter than the previous one. His publishing house was banned after the second issue was published.
Novikov is the publisher of the Zhivopisets magazine. The previous experience led Nikolai Ivanovich to the idea that he should act much more diplomatically and prudently. Novikov tried to embody this rule in the journal "Painter" - its first issues included only subtle satire on the mores of people. In each issue, the praises of the Empress and those close to her were obligatory. Only starting from the fifth issue, the author allowed himself to allow himself to criticize the cruelty of the landowners and the state itself. He again touched upon those forbidden at that time. It should be noted that in addition to Novikov himself, famous educators of the 18th century participated in the work on the magazines: A.P. Sumarokov, D.I. Fonvizin. In addition to satire, the content of the magazine included serious translations of European thinkers, discussions on social topics. The magazine became quite a popular publication, "The Painter" was considered the best periodical of that time in the Russian Empire. However, in 1773 it was closed for reasons similar to the closure of previous magazines.
Novikov is the publisher of the "Purse" magazine. This was the last journal published by N.I. Novikov. Fate measured him only two months of existence - only nine issues of this magazine were published. The main theme of the "Wallet" was the criticism of imitation of all French. The topic is no less unpleasant for the upper strata of Russian society.
Novikov worked on archival materials. Nikolai Ivanovich always thought with pleasure about the development of the book business in the Russian Empire. In 1772, he published a work, which included the biographies of about three hundred Russian thinkers. Soon he restores forgotten and unused archival materials and devotes his work to Empress Catherine the Great. The twenty-eight books included essays from previous times on political, geographical or historical topics. Also, poetry and prose of Russian authors were not forgotten. The Empress was pleased with N.I. Novikova and even herself ordered to provide Nikolai Ivanovich with ancient manuscripts.
Novikov is a member of the Masonic lodge. Nikolai Ivanovich was in search of like-minded people in his views. In 1775 Novikov became a member of the provincial Masonic lodge. He was immediately given the highest title. But Novikov himself was not at all attracted by any rituals, the mystical component of Freemasonry - here he found support for his educational activities. Already in 1778, members of this Masonic society suggested that Nikolai Ivanovich rent a printing house at Moscow University. The term was negotiated for ten years. Naturally, Novikov agreed.
Novikov possessed organizational skills. Immediately after signing a contract with the masons, Nikolai Ivanovich moved to Moscow, where he took up work in a printing house. His organizational skills have made this printing house one of the best in all of Europe. By 1788, about half of the entire book production of the Russian Empire was printed in it. Novikov opened for readers many classic works of both Russian and European authors. Also Novikov made a rather interesting publication of the newspaper "Moskovskie vedomosti", which existed earlier; under Nikolai Ivanovich, its circulation increased noticeably.
Novikov established the Friendly Scientific Society. True, he did it together with his comrade I.G. Schwartz (1779). The purpose of the work of this society was to publish a variety of books useful for society, which were to be printed in four printing houses. Already in 1783, with the help of their efforts, 79 books appeared. They were put up for sale in bookstores and Moscow University. In the same year, Novikov created the first Moscow public library, the use of which was absolutely free. The charitable act of this society was the opening of pedagogical and translation courses. They were intended for fifty gifted but poor students at Moscow University. In these courses, they were prepared for educational work - the training was at the proper level. In 1784, the said society was renamed the Printing Company. She has published a huge number of books. Among them were philosophical books, the works of economists in England, as well as the works of Russian authors of the 11th - 18th centuries. The activities of the Printing Company did not end there. With her money, several houses were bought to accommodate printing houses and provide employees with their own housing, and a pharmacy was opened, where poor people could receive medicines completely free of charge.
Novikov was involved in charity work. It reached an especially large scale in the famine year 1787. Novikov and his associates organized the following action: they set up special shops in which everyone in need could get grain and bread for free. After the end of the hungry year, these stores continued to operate. The people were grateful to Novikov, but the authorities were not: the empress was annoyed by the Masons, although the main reason was still the growing popularity of Nikolai Ivanovich. In 1785, the empress performed a grandiose check of N.I. Novikov. The printing company suffered enormous damage: a significant part of the published books were destroyed.
After the incident of 1785, Novikov continued his publishing activity. In 1786, the empress again allowed Nikolai Ivanovich to trade in books. It is known that for the period 1779 - 1792 Novikov published 944 books on various topics. However, in 1791, the contract with the Moscow University was not renewed. The printing company ceased operations.
In 1792 Novikov was arrested. This happened after Nikolai Ivanovich lost his wife, whom he was very worried about, and the collapse of his life's business, which marked the closure of the Printing Company. The interrogation was conducted personally by the head of the Secret Expedition, known to his contemporaries for taking part in the torture of those arrested. They accused Novikov of membership in a Masonic society and publishing books contrary to the law. After more than four years of imprisonment in the Shlisselburg fortress, Nikolai Ivanovich Novikov was freed by Paul I. He spent the rest of his life in poverty, which was facilitated by the loss of health, falling illnesses of his son and daughter, as well as numerous debts. He died in 1818. The Novikov estate was put up for auction.